Across State Lines

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Published by Sidney Meriweather

On June 9th, 2017 I packed up a moving truck with everything I owned and moved from Arkansas to Texas.

I made the decision to move during the Summer of 2016 when I was asked to prayerfully consider helping start a church in Georgetown, TX. My senior year of college was ahead of me and I knew that I had to go somewhere and build a life after graduation; why not make every major change all at once and start over in Texas?

Over the past 2 years, I’ve learned more about myself, my relationships with others, and the Lord more than I ever thought possible. I also learned A LOT about the “Dos” and “Don’ts” of moving across state lines. Learn from my mistakes and avoid a few of these key “moving” obstacles.

It’s not who you know, it’s who they know…

Finding a job in an area where you have a network of professionals, friends, or family is hard enough. I decided to find a job in an area where I knew exactly zero people. Talk about hard.

I was on every job recruiting site, updating my LinkedIn constantly, and desperately trying to get an interview from just about anywhere.

Anytime a person in my life told me they knew someone in the Austin area I immediately asked for an email address, phone number, or even Facebook invite so that I could possibly connect with a professional in Texas.

Though I eventually secured my current job through a recruiting website, the efforts I put into meeting people throughout the city left me with a network of professionals who were sharing my name and resume throughout Central Texas.

Cling to these people, because it’s not the people that you directly communicate with day-to-day who can help you find a job. It’s the people that your daily interactions worked with years ago or spent a week with at summer camp that will become your network.

Tell people at your gym, your church, your office, wherever you are about where you’re going. You never know who they’ll be able to connect you with.

Get your new driver’s license before the old one expires!

In most states, you need to change your driver’s license within 90 days of establishing a new residence. When I went to get my Texas license, I was well within the 90-day period, however, I didn’t realize my Arkansas license had expired. We’ll blame that blunder on forgetfulness.

So, I get to the DMV (for the first time) with all my paperwork ready to go and the DMV closes before it’s my turn. I leave frustrated but determined to get it right the next week.

I go back to the DMV with the new state resident application, car registration, proof of residency, etc. and my number is called. I’m sitting at the counter excited to officially become a Texan, and the lady looks at me and says, “I can’t give you a license today.”

Heart hits stomach, anger flares, and I respond, “Why not?”

She says, “Ma’am, your license expired 2 days ago, therefore, we don’t have any valid proof that you’ve ever passed a driving exam before.”

I thought I was going to lose it right there in the DMV. I said, “Ok, what do I do now?”

I was informed that I need to pass online Adult Driver’s Education for Texas, and pass a second online course that went over common roadway dangers throughout the U.S. This took me over 30 hours of online coursework, 10+ quizzes, 2 exams, and 14 days to complete.

After this, I go back to the DMV and am told, great you’ve met all the coursework requirements, now you just need to pass the road test. That’s right, at 22 years old I took my second road test and was finally passed to get my license.

I know that this story won’t happen to most of you reading, but please, learn from my mistakes and take care of getting a new license as quickly as possible when you get to a new state.

Paying Taxes in Two States

When tax season hits you’re either excited for the refund check that you’ve been planning for or dreading the check you’re about to send to the IRS. Either way, we must file our taxes.

Remember that you will have to file income taxes in both states you lived in for that tax season. This may mean contacting previous employers and updating your address and making sure that documentation gets sent to the right place.

Also, check the tax laws in your new state. In my case, Arkansas collects state income taxes, but Texas does not. Make sure to keep these differences in mind when filing.

Roll with the Punches

Honestly, the easiest part of moving across state lines is the drive itself. It’s the moments leading up to that drive and the ones that come after that test a person.

Keep other tasks on your to-do list like switching to a local bank, registering your car, getting bills with your new address for proof of residency, etc. I ran into other issues like car inspection; in the state of Arkansas an inspection isn’t required for car registration, so I had no idea that was necessary until my roommate tried to register her car without it.

Starting over in a new place, with new people can be terrifying, and no amount of planning will leave you feeling fully prepared for the life changes coming your way. However, learn from other’s mistakes and embrace the whirlwind of emotions and obstacles headed your way.

Roll with the punches and remember to breathe easy and find joy in the little things – like running into someone you know for the first time in the grocery store. This new place will become home in no time.

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